BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE The finals hopes of the North-West Tall Timbers Thunder now officially hang on the fortunes of others after crashing to a heavy 104-63 defeat at the hands of Tasmanian rivals Hobart on Friday night.
The result leaves the Thunder awaiting the result of Saturday’s game between Mount Gambier and Sandringham, with the Pioneers needing to be upset by the Sabres after narrowly defeating on Friday night against Melbourne.
After a good start, the Thunder’s offence dried up towards the end of the first quarter, allowing the Chargers to get ahead 26-17 in front of a huge crowd at the Derwent Entertainment Centre.
But we totally fell apart on defence again with guys missing their assignments.
Thunder assistant coach Nick Haywood
From there the visitors were never in the hunt, falling further and further behind Hobart, whose high-powered offence continually kept the scoreboard ticking over in their favour.
The final quarter was a procession for the Chargers as the Thunder lost Jeremiah Ingram and Lachie Barker to foul trouble and Ben Richmond to an ankle injury.
Assistant coach Nick Haywood said the result had similar tones to the the loss against Diamond Valley the week before, with defence the biggest issue again.
“Tonight was very disappointing because we put ourselves in the game from the start with guys knocking a few shots down, and things looked okay,” he said.
“But we totally fell apart on defence again with guys missing their assignments.
“It seemed like a replay of last week where guys seem to get on fire against us and we are powerless to stop them.”
The Thunder’s cause wasn’t helped by the absence of Tre Armstrong and Kobe Jackson, but Haywood admitted his team find it hard to match it with the Chargers, with the 41-point margin coming on top of 24, 57 and 23-point losses in the last three encounters.
“We definitely struggle with them because they are such a hard team to guard,” Haywood said.
“All five of their starters are so good offensively, and they don’t necessarily have to play good defence when they shoot like they do.
“If you play good defence on a couple of players, two others step up and we don’t have the foot-speed across all five positions to guard them.”
With their fate in the hands of others now, Haywood said urgent changes will have to be made if they somehow make the finals.
“If we manage to get in we have to make some huge changes,” Haywood said.
“Our 10 wins have been really good this year and for whatever reason the last fortnight has been terrible.”
Only two Thunder players finished in double-digits, led by Joe Chilcott’s 16 points and Lachie Barker’s 11 points.
Mathiang Muo top-scored for the Chargers with 31 points, with Craig Moller and Tre Nichols adding 26 and 21 points respectively.